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Organizational Rules and Guidelines of the Spartacist League/U.S. Section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist)

As amended at the Eleventh National Conference (June 2002),
the Thirteenth National Conference (June 2009)
and the Fourteenth National Conference (December 2015)


The Organizational Rules and Guidelines of the Spartacist League/U.S. printed in this bulletin incorporate amendments adopted by the Fourteenth National Conference held in late 2015. The Organizational Rules and Guidelines were revised from those adopted by the Tenth National Conference of the SL/U.S. on 26 June 1999, and the 1991 edition of the Rules printed in Marxist Bulletin No. 9 Supplement, and also incorporates amendments adopted by the Eleventh National Conference (June 2002) and Thirteenth National Conference (June 2009), and produced in a bulletin in July 2009. As a section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), the SL/U.S. is bound by the International Organizational Rules and Guidelines adopted by the ICL in February 1998 (see Spartacist No. 54, Spring 1998).

The changes to the SL/U.S. rules since 2002 have been slight. The most significant change adopted at the Eleventh National Conference (incorporated into the July 2009 edition of the Rules) was that the category of consultative member was added to the composition of the Central Committee. In this 2016 edition of the Rules, the most significant change, adopted by the 2015 National Conference, was to specify that consultative party members may not be members-at-large unless, under rare circumstances, the Political Bureau approves of an exception.

We are also reprinting here the Introduction to the 1999 Organizational Rules and Guidelines, which explain the historical development and purpose of our Rules.

—SL/U.S. Political Bureau
26 June 2016

Introduction to 1999 Organizational Rules and Guidelines

The Organizational Rules and Guidelines of the Spartacist League/U.S. contained in this bulletin were adopted by the Tenth National Conference of the SL/U.S. on 26 June 1999. As a section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), the SL/U.S. is bound by the international Organizational Rules and Guidelines adopted by the ICL in February 1998 (see Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 54, Spring 1998).

The Organizational Rules and Guidelines printed here are revised from the Organizational Rules and Guidelines accepted in draft form by the Eighth National Conference of the SL/U.S. on 20 September 1987 with additions and editorial changes ratified by the Central Committee on 6 October 1990. In its final form, including minor corrections and changes made through 17 March 1991 under the supervision of the Political Bureau, those rules were printed in Marxist Bulletin No. 9 Supplement.

Prior to the Second National Conference, the Spartacist League did not have its own written organizational guidelines. From our inception as an independent organization following the expulsion of our predecessor, the Revolutionary Tendency (RT), from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in December 1963 and continuing through the founding conference of the Spartacist League in September 1966, we simply stated that we were guided by the best standard practice and historical precedents of the Communist (Leninist) and Trotskyist movements, qualified to the extent of their particular relevance. Provisional Organizational Rules and Guidelines were adopted at the Second National Conference of the SL/U.S. on 31 August 1969 and extended at the Fifth National Conference on 25 June 1977 (see Marxist Bulletin No. 9, Part II).

As the Organizational Rules and Guidelines have been implemented in the course of the work of the organization, various points of unclarity have arisen, as has the need for certain amplifications. Those which have come to light have been addressed in these Organizational Rules and Guidelines. Such rules always reflect the living reality of an organization with new demands and new problems. Therefore, given the flux of the revolutionary Marxist movement, one can hardly believe that the statutes printed here can be the last word.

The Organizational Rules and Guidelines of the SL/U.S. are in accordance with the thrust of the 21 Conditions of Adherence adopted at the Second Congress of the Communist International and stand on the foundation of the “Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of Their Work,” adopted at the Third Congress of the Communist International. (For an overview of the historical development of the ICL’s organizational practices, see “On the Origins and Development of Leninist Organizational Practices,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 54, Spring 1998.)

In the “Declaration of Principles of the Spartacist League,” adopted at our founding conference (see Marxist Bulletin No. 9, Part I), we spell out the guiding criteria of our organizational practice:

“The organizational principle of the Spartacist League is democratic centralism, a balance between internal democracy and functional discipline. As a combat organization, the revolutionary vanguard must be capable of unified and decisive action at all times in the class struggle. All members must be mobilized to carry out the decisions of the majority; authority must be centralized in its selected leadership which interprets tactically the organization’s program. Internal democracy permits the collective determination of the party’s line in accord with the needs felt by the party’s ranks who are closest to the class as a whole. The right to factional democracy is absolutely vital to a living movement. The very existence of this right helps to channel differences into less absorbing means of resolution.”

One of the striking features of the SL from its inception has been the explicit recognition of the right of factional division within the organization. The underlying principle is that intraparty struggle is both necessary and permitted among members, subject to reasonable regulation. However, one can struggle inside the organization or outside of it, but not both; those who wish to propagandize their differences or mobilize outside the organization cannot be members at the same time.

Much of our practice in this regard comes by way of the negative example of the SWP in the years that the RT, as a minority within that party, sought to combat the degeneration of the once-revolutionary SWP into centrism (and rapidly thereafter into reformism). In abiding by the formal organizational rules of the party, the RT impelled the revisionist Majority to bring the SWP rules into line with its rightward-moving political practices. Thus the RT was expelled under the following syllogism: (1) factions are permitted in the SWP; (2) factionalists are disloyal people; (3) disloyal people are expelled. (The SWP’s 1965 resolution, “The Organizational Character of the Socialist Workers Party,” authorized in the same motion as the RT’s expulsion and written as an explicit justification for it, provided the basis for the subsequent elimination of all factions. See “The SWP: A Strangled Party,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 38-39, Summer 1986.)

In the course of the fight to exercise our factional rights as members of the SWP, comrades in the RT wrote “For the Right of Organized Tendencies to Exist Within the Party” as a rebuttal to an SWP Political Committee motion seeking to victimize the Minority. The document, printed in Marxist Bulletin No. 4, Part I, is a historical example of the mechanisms through which a disciplined tendency tried to coalesce and struggle within an ostensibly revolutionary organization. Additional material on the exclusion of the RT supporters from the SWP in 1963 is contained in Marxist Bulletin No. 4, “Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party,” Parts I and II.

—6 July 1999

Organizational Rules and Guidelines of the Spartacist League/U.S.
Section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist)

Article I. Name

The name of the organization shall be the Spartacist League of the United States, hereinafter referred to as the SL/U.S.

Article II. Statement of Purpose

The purpose of the Spartacist League/U.S. is to educate and organize the working class for the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is part of the International Communist League’s goal to achieve communism over the whole earth by class-struggle centered means that are at once proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist as defined by the ICL’s “Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program” (February 1998). This is necessarily consistent with our international political forebears, foremost Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

Article III. International Affiliation

International affiliation is undertaken to promote the reforging of a democratic-centralist Fourth International, of which the SL/U.S. aspires to be the disciplined section in the United States.

1. As a section of an international organization, the SL/U.S. is subordinate to the rules and decisions of International Conferences and of the International Executive Committee (IEC), and must comply with the initiatives of its International Secretariat or bring our objections to the IEC. We recognize that we are bound by the international “Organizational Rules and Guidelines” adopted by the Third International Conference of the ICL in February 1998.

2. Members of the IEC have the right to attend with voice and consultative vote all meetings of bodies of the SL/U.S.

3. International affiliation, or change thereof, may be decided by the National Conference, or by the Central Committee (CC) subject to review at the next National Conference. Provision must be sought for the deciding body to directly hear the views of the international body.

Article IV. Membership

1. Membership in the SL/U.S. is open to persons who agree with its Statement of Purpose and who accept its program, decisions and rules. A member of the SL must belong to and personally participate in one of the party organizations.

2. Every member shall belong to a local body. Exceptions to this policy may be made only by the Political Bureau (PB). Member-at-large status is anomalous and thus shall be discouraged. Members-at-large (MALs) who are new shall normally be admitted as candidates and remain such until they can belong to a local body. MALs shall be directly responsible to the PB for the conduct of their political work.

3. Every member shall pay a monthly sustaining pledge. A progressive taxation scale (including appropriate deductions as specified by party financial guidelines) shall be established by the CC and adjusted from time to time as found necessary, as a minimum pledge. Any individual exception from this standard below the minimum must be approved by the national treasurer, subject to approval by the PB. Sympathizers should be encouraged to make regular sustaining pledges to the SL/U.S.

4. Pledges are due by the last day of each month. Any member more than one full month in arrears in sustaining pledge ceases to be in good standing. Only members in good standing may vote or hold office in the SL/U.S. Any member more than three full months in arrears in sustaining pledge shall be dropped from the SL/U.S. after notification.

5. Substantial material support to cults, religions or comparable fads, or proselytizing for them, is incompatible with SL/U.S. membership.

6. Members will not in their personal appearance, habits, conduct or lifestyles be either a serious or chronic detriment to the SL/U.S.

7. Applications for membership shall be in writing and shall be endorsed by two full members of the SL/U.S. Each new member shall pay an initiation fee of $10 which shall be forwarded to the Central Office (CO). This fee is waived for reapplicants.

8. Individual applicants for membership shall be voted on by the Local Committee (LC) in their locale. In those areas where an Organizing Committee (OC) exists, applicants shall be voted on by the Political Bureau (with the recommendation of the OC. Where no SL/U.S. local body exists, the PB alone shall vote on membership; the applicant, if accepted, will be given the status of member-at-large (MAL).

9. Action on membership applications shall take place in the absence of the applicant.

10. Applicants for membership shall serve a period of candidacy, normally of three months, during which the applicant may be dropped at any time by the admitting body. At the end of the set period, the candidate will either be accepted into full membership, continued for another period as a candidate or dropped. For admission to full membership candidates should be able to demonstrate a comprehensive basic understanding of the political positions of the SL/U.S. During the period of candidacy, members shall not have a decisive vote in the national decisions of the SL/U.S. or on questions of membership or discipline.

11. When applicants have had immediately prior, verifiable membership in another radical cadre organization, or are members of a transitional organization of the SL/U.S., the period of candidacy may be waived or reduced.

12. The CC is empowered to accept groups or organizations of individuals, eligible under Section 1 of this Article, as members en bloc, and to assign them to the proper local bodies.

13. Persons who have been expelled or dropped from the SL/U.S. or have resigned from it may not be readmitted without the approval of the PB. Normally such persons, if readmitted, will serve longer periods of candidacy than others. When the period of candidacy is completed, the PB, upon recommendation from the LC or OC to which the candidate belongs, may accept the candidate as a full member, drop the candidate from membership or further extend the period of candidacy.

14. A member desiring to transfer from one locality to another must apply to the LC to which the member belongs for permission. The LC must send a statement of financial standing to the LC of the locality to which the member moves. Notification of the transfer must also be sent to the CO. If no LC exists in the old locality, the PB shall pass on the transfer, with the advice of the OC where such exists. If no local body exists in the new locality the member will become a member-at-large.

15. Members seeking to take vacations must secure the agreement of the LC to which the member belongs. Members on vacation retain their membership rights insofar as such members are recallable at any time.

16. Leaves of absence (LOA) may be granted to members temporarily unable to carry out regular political activity due to ill health or other reasons. The maximum leave time permitted a member in any one continuous interval is six months. Any political work undertaken while on leave must be under the jurisdiction of the appropriate party body. Members on LOA do not have a vote in any body of the organization; they shall pay a regular monthly sustaining pledge according to the pledge scale set by the CC.

17. Those members with many years in the Marxist movement who by reason of chronic infirmity or the debilities of old age are unable to meet the obligations of membership may by mutual agreement be transferred to the status of consultative member. Consultative members may not be members-at-large. Any exception to this policy may be made only by the Political Bureau, as membership-at-large is extremely anomalous and shall be strongly discouraged. Consultative members must personally participate in a local party organization to the extent that they are able, and shall have the right to participate in the internal life and public work of the SL/U.S. However, consultative members may not possess a decisive vote in the local committee of which they are members or serve on any continuing higher party body.

Consultative members shall pay a regular monthly sustaining pledge according to the pledge scale set by the CC.

18. Applications to transfer to or from the status of consultative member shall be voted upon by the PB, possibly upon recommendation of a local body. Consultative member status is subject to annual review by the PB. If a mutually agreeable disposition is not arrived at, the matter will go to party trial as specified in Article XIV of these Rules.

Article V. National Conference

1. The highest expression of the political and organizational will of the U.S. section is the National Conference, the delegated and decision-making national meeting of the membership. The sectional conference is, however, subordinate to International Conferences and to specific decisions of the IEC. National Conferences will be called by the CC, as a norm every two years. Any departure must be justified by the CC in writing. National Conferences may also be initiated by a majority of full members of the SL/U.S., voting in their local bodies. The CC shall have responsibility for at least the organizational and technical aspects of any National Conference.

2. The period of organized pre-Conference discussion for a CC-called Conference is defined by issuance of the Conference Call, which shall contain or be accompanied by a statement or documents setting forth the main substance proposed for Conference discussion and decision, as well as organizational provisions—delegate ratio, locale, etc. In convening a National Conference, the CC will be guided by preceding practice as documented by past Conference Calls, modified by the requirements of the current situation.

3. Regularly called Conferences will normally be preceded by a 90-day discussion period as defined above. More frequent or urgent National Conferences may have to have a reduced pre-Conference discussion period. The PB may set a deadline for acceptance of pre-Conference discussion articles for the Internal Bulletin.

4. The CC shall levy a compulsory membership assessment to help finance the National Conference.

5. The election of Conference delegates shall take place in LCs and OCs. The ratio of delegates to full members (who are in good standing at the time of voting) shall be set by the CC in the Conference Call. Only full members of the SL/U.S. in good standing and who have paid their Conference assessment may vote for and run as delegates. However, consultative members, although unable to vote for delegates, may in all other respects participate in the Conference process and may stand for election as proxy delegates by local bodies. To qualify as a full member that comrade must both have been admitted to full membership prior to the meeting at which delegate voting takes place and have been admitted to candidate membership prior to the date that the Central Committee declares the opening of pre-Conference discussion. Local bodies may elect alternate delegates in numbers not exceeding the number of regular delegates.

6. MALs who are full members and who have attended a majority of regularly scheduled pre-Conference discussion meetings in a nearby local may vote for delegates in that local and may stand for election as proxy delegates by local bodies; the same applies to members present in a local other than that in which they are normally resident.

7. Where there are more nominees for delegate than there are delegate slots for the given political position, the voting shall be conducted successively until a majority of votes for each delegate (regular or alternate) has been obtained. In the event that candidates do not obtain a majority of votes for all delegate slots, a second vote among those not elected shall be taken (perhaps dropping those nominees who had obtained the fewest votes).

8. If a local body is unable to send to the Conference the full number of delegates it is entitled to, it may appoint proxy delegates from other areas.

9. It is impermissible for locals, factions or anyone else to place binding instructions on delegates as to positions or votes to be taken at National Conferences.

10. In case of factional division, the election of delegates in the local bodies shall be on the basis of straight proportional representation. Factional division must be based upon counterposed written declarations of position voted against one another. After the vote for defining positions, those who voted for each position shall caucus separately to select their delegates, following which the local as a whole shall certify the results and issue delegates’ credentials. The general formula for electing delegates is set forth in the Appendix.

11. In a factional situation, if one or more comrades in a given LC who hold a position in common with those in other LCs do not qualify for even a partial delegate, or are otherwise unable to send some or all the delegates they are entitled to, they may assign their membership votes to those in other LCs so that their views may be represented at the Conference.

12. Party Conferences traditionally extend fraternal delegate rights to the members of the outgoing Central Committee and Central Control Commission. It is politically appropriate that the seeking of full rather than fraternal delegate status by CC members be inverse to their CC category.

Article VI. Central Committee

1. The Central Committee shall be the highest continuing body of the SL/U.S. The National Conference, which stands higher, is a specific, discontinuous event. The CC shall have final authority between Conferences over all SL/U.S. members, fractions and committees, local and national, and over all SL/U.S. publications, public or internal, local or national. All decisions of the CC are subject to review and ratification by the National Conference.

2. The CC shall be elected by the National Conference and shall consist in size of such full, alternate, and perhaps candidate and consultative, members as set by the National Conference. The number of full members shall preferably be an odd number. If conflicting political divisions are present, the Conference will use proportional representation with the limitation that a Conference majority is entitled to a minimum of three-fifths of the CC seats.

3. Full and alternate CC members should be persons of proven political capacity who are at the disposal of the SL/U.S. for relocation or other assignments if called upon. Candidate CC members should be persons who show evidence of and willingness to meet such qualifications.

4. Consultative CC status may be accorded to senior leaders of the SL/U.S. who by virtue of old age are no longer able to fulfill the executive and administrative responsibilities of CC membership but whose advice and consultation is deemed valuable to the CC.

5. Full, alternate and consultative CC members shall have the right of access to any party body, excluding certain central party bodies under special circumstances.

6. Decisive votes on the CC are cast only by comrades sitting as full members. Alternate, candidate and consultative members of the CC have the right to voice and consultative vote on the CC.

7. In no sense is the CC a federated group of representatives from different semi-autonomous localities. The CC is the centralized national collective which leads the entire SL/U.S. between National Conferences. Hence the CC must include elements creating a strong and balanced leadership that is authoritative, possesses a division of labor among the central leaders, yet has sufficient spread into the principal localities and areas of work.

8. There is no special discipline of higher bodies separating them from or counterposing them to other members of the SL/U.S. While it is preferable, for example, that the CC have an opportunity to discuss new questions first, members of the CC are not prohibited from discussing disputed political questions with other party members or communicating such information to them. Individual members of higher bodies are expected to show judgment and responsibility based upon consideration of what is best for the organization as a whole.

9. The CC may select from the alternate list to fill vacancies among full members. The CC may co-opt members to itself in the event its list of alternates and candidates is exhausted, or to maintain the proportional political representation established at the preceding Conference, or to give political representation to newly joined groups or tendencies, or to otherwise strengthen the party.

10. The CC directs all the work of the SL/U.S., decides all questions of policy in accord with Conference decisions, elects National Officers and may appoint subcommittees, commissions, and regional and special bureaus.

11. The CC shall regulate internal written and oral discussion of conflicting positions in accordance with the principle that a living, continuous internal life is vital to the SL/U.S. Hence any limitations on discussion must be justified in each particular circumstance. A major limitation often found necessary is that questions fought out and decided by the National Conference may not be immediately thrown open for renewed discussion.

12. With the passage of time and possible new developments around the disputed issue, the CC may choose to authorize new discussion, moderated for example by organizing it in purely literary form and limiting length of contributions. In any case, all political subjects of interest to the SL/U.S. are open during established pre-Conference discussion periods.

13. CC regulation of discussion also requires the technical centralization of written internal discussion, which shall take place exclusively in bulletins and mailings for which the CC has given prior authorization.

14. During its regular term of office the CC shall normally meet at least three times, including immediately after and before successive National Conferences. The CC shall be convened by the PB or at the demand of a majority of CC members. Every member of the CC shall be given due notice of the time and place that such a plenum will be held.

15. Informal meetings of members of the CC or meetings for which notification to all members has not been given are purely consultative in character; the results of such discussions must be communicated to the PB, which will where appropriate forward any recommendations to the CC as a whole.

Article VII. Central Control Commission

1. A Central Control Commission (CCC) of not less than three members shall be elected as follows: The National Conference shall elect at least two members of the CCC. One member, who shall be a member of the CC, shall be designated by the CC. Members of the CCC have the same rights of access to any party body as alternate members of the CC.

2. The CCC shall have full authority to investigate any individual or circumstance affecting the SL/U.S. it may deem necessary and shall be responsible for periodic audits of the National Treasury and other national SL/U.S. departments and institutions. The CCC shall have the power to delegate any of its authority to representatives.

3. The CCC may initiate any investigation it deems necessary, and must undertake an investigation requested by the Political Bureau.

4. The CCC, upon completion of its investigation in each case, shall present its findings and recommendations to the PB for action. It can report majority/minority findings.

5. In those cases where the CCC finds it necessary to intervene, its authority shall supersede any local investigation or trial.

6. It is obligatory on every member of the SL/U.S. to furnish the CCC, or its authorized representatives, any information they may require, other than material exchanged within a tendency or faction or material exchanged entirely privately between two individual SL/U.S. members.

Article VIII. Political, Regional and Special Bureaus

1. The CC shall elect from among its full members a Political Bureau to serve as its resident executive subcommittee, and may elect alternate members of the PB as it deems necessary. The number of full PB members shall be an odd number.

2. The PB shall act on behalf of the CC between its meetings and shall be responsible for such work as is delegated to it by the CC. Among the normal functions of the PB are the supervision of the CO and National Officers, direction of national publications and appointment of the national staff. All decisions of the PB are subject to review and ratification by the CC and the National Conference.

3. There shall be approximately the same proportional representation on the PB as on the CC if there have been conflicting political divisions at the last Conference.

4. The PB shall meet as necessary and shall send minutes of its meetings to all members of the CC, who will be responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the minutes within the organization during the period prior to their release by the organization to a publicly accessible archive.

5. The PB may appoint an Organization Bureau to oversee questions of personnel resources.

6. Regional or other special bureaus or commissions of the CC may be created as needed and are subject to the authority of and regulation by the PB between CC meetings.

Article IX. Standing Committee

1. The Central Committee at its option may establish a Standing Committee to be elected by the Political Bureau from among the members of the CC able to discharge the required functions.

2. The Standing Committee of the PB undertakes certain administrative responsibilities. Its decisions are either unanimous and therefore operative or, failing unanimity, the disputed issue is either moot or, if so decided by Standing Committee majority, reverts to the PB or CC.

Article X. National Officers

1. The National Officers of the SL/U.S. shall be directly responsible for their work to the PB and shall be elected by the CC from among its full and consultative members. Normally the CC shall elect a National Chairman, National Secretary and such other National Officers as it deems necessary.

2. The National Chairman shall be the principal political spokesman of the SL/U.S. and shall be the convener of the CC and the PB.

3. The National Secretary shall be responsible for the administration of the Central Office.

4. Other National Officers may include a Deputy National Chairman; a Director of Party Publications, who shall be responsible for all public propaganda of the SL/U.S. emanating from the Central Office; and a National Organizational Secretary, who shall be responsible for the administration of the local and organizing committees and MALs.

5. National Officers must be resident in the Center. If the National Chairman is out of the Center temporarily (or the post is vacant) those responsibilities will be assumed by the Deputy National Chairman. If there is no Deputy National Chairman, those responsibilities will be assumed by the National Secretary.

6. Any National Officer who, for whatever reason, travels outside the United States, ceases for that period of time to act in his capacity as National Officer.

Article XI. Local, District and Regional Organization

1. The Local Committee shall be the basic unit of the SL/U.S. Five or more members in a locality may upon application to the PB be chartered as an LC. The criteria guiding the PB in granting charters should center upon the demonstration of the applicants’ sustained organizational and political stability as an OC.

2. An LC has the prerogatives, consistent with its expected ability, to do the political and organizational work of the SL/U.S. within its jurisdictional scope. Hence an LC may issue leaflets and newsletters in the name of the SL/U.S., pass on membership applications and hold public meetings. Its charter from the national organization may be revoked only for cause.

3. An LC shall be administered in a regular fashion. Each LC shall elect an organizer and such other officers and working committees as are required to carry out the LC’s responsibilities, including financial, secretarial and educational functions and the circulation of the SL/U.S. press. LCs must hold regular meetings, of which minutes shall be sent to the CO. Normally an LC will elect an executive committee to act on the LC’s behalf between local meetings and undertake such other work as is assigned by the LC. Local elections should take place no less often than twice a year.

4. Where three or more members exist in a locality they may, upon application, be recognized by the PB as an Organizing Committee. OCs shall meet regularly and send minutes of all their meetings to the CO. OCs may, with the guidance of the CO, issue public SL/U.S. leaflets and may recommend to the PB applicants for membership.

5. If a chartered LC ceases to demonstrate sufficient organizational or political stability, the Political Bureau may put that LC in receivership to the PB, during which time the LC may conduct no public work except under the guidance of the CO and must refer its recommendations on all membership questions to the PB for decision.

6. Local and Organizing Committees will be responsible for collecting sustaining pledges and forwarding them to the CO. Payment of sustaining pledges is a matter of the individual member’s responsibility; there will be no collective local pledge. The sustaining pledge will normally be the only regular payment the members make to the SL/U.S. Locals will normally finance their activities by retaining a portion agreed to by the National Treasurer, subject to approval by the PB, of the sustaining pledges collected locally.

7. LCs, OCs and MALs will receive free of charge bundles of SL/U.S. literature and publications for sale, in such quantities as are agreed to by the CO. In return the CO will receive the entire proceeds from all sales of the press.

8. Where more than one LC exists in a locale or where a single LC has grown unwieldy, a district organization may be set up, subject to the approval of the PB. A district organization shall include a District Executive Committee (DEC), elected no less often than annually by the entire district membership meeting in District Conference, and such officers as the DEC may select. Between District Conferences, the DEC shall be the highest body within the district organization. District Conferences shall take place no less often than four times a year.

9. In geographically larger areas regional organizations may be set up, subject to the approval of the PB. Between delegated Regional Conferences, the Regional Committee shall be the highest body within the regional organization. Regional Conferences shall take place no less often than annually.

Article XII. Fractions

1. For the purpose of carrying out day-to-day work in particular arenas, members of LCs and OCs shall be organized into fractions which are under the authority of and responsible to the LC or OC.

2. Where such fractions exist, every party member in that arena shall normally be a member of that fraction.

3. Fractions shall meet on a regular basis and shall make regular reports to the LC or OC responsible for the work.

4. The PB may deem it necessary to create a national fraction to coordinate work among local fractions in the same arena. The national fraction is under the authority of and responsible to the PB.

5. Fractions are working bodies of the party for particular areas of external work. They are not the vehicles for discussion of general party matters, which shall be taken up in local or higher party bodies.

Article XIII. Transitional Organizations

The SL/U.S. may find it necessary to develop specific transitional organizations to intersect strata of working people with special needs and problems or for special areas of work. These organizations will be autonomous SL/U.S. affiliates, politically subordinate and organizationally independent. The details of relations between the SL/U.S. and transitional organizations will be generally modeled on those set forth in “Youth-Party Relations,” adopted in September 1971 (see Marxist Bulletin No. 9, Part III).

Article XIV. Discipline

1. Members will carry out the program and policies of the SL/U.S. in all aspects of their public political life. All decisions of higher bodies of the SL/U.S. are binding upon the members and subordinate bodies of the SL/U.S.

2. Political collaboration with non-members of the SL/U.S. must be formally authorized by the SL/U.S. body having jurisdiction.

3. Any member or body of the SL/U.S. may bring charges against any member for violation of the program, decisions or rules of the SL/U.S. The charges must initially be presented in writing to the highest body of which the accused is a member. That body may constitute itself as the trial committee or may refer the charges to a lower body of which the accused is a member. If a higher body decides to intervene directly, the trial shall be so transferred. Charges may be dismissed at any time by the body having jurisdiction at that time.

4. No body shall meet as a trial committee unless all members have been informed in advance of the business at hand. The accused must be given notice of the trial date and a copy of the charges at least seven days preceding the trial. Failure to appear or to send a letter of defense shall, in the absence of excuse for such failure, be grounds for conducting the trial in absentia.

5. The disciplinary measures which are normally available in the event the accused is found guilty are, in increasing order of severity: censure, reduction to candidate for a period, suspension—partial or complete, and expulsion.

6. The accused or accuser may appeal the decision (dismissal of charges, guilt or innocence, or the severity of discipline) of any body to the next higher one, up to and including the IEC and International Conference, whose decision shall be final. In the meantime, pending appeal, the current decision remains in force. An appeal must be filed within 15 days after the action being appealed.

7. In some circumstances trials are pointless, irrelevant or dangerous. Such cases may include those where the accused admits the accusation, where the accused is not in good standing, where the accused has quit the SL/U.S., where the accusation involves crimes according to bourgeois legality, where attempted penetration by class enemies is involved. In such cases means other than a formal trial should be employed.

Article XV. Miscellaneous

1. Additional regulations that fall within but are not spelled out by the SL/U.S. Organizational Rules may be made by the CC. Necessary modifications of the SL/U.S. Organizational Rules may be made by the CC in order to protect the security and functioning of the SL/U.S. under different or altered circumstances. Otherwise, amendments to these Rules may be made only by the National Conference. All members of the SL/U.S. shall be provided with a copy of the Rules.

2. LCs and other bodies may adopt such by-laws supplemental to these Rules as they deem desirable, providing such by-laws are not in conflict with these Rules or the decisions of higher bodies.

3. At all meetings of the SL/U.S. Robert’s Rules of Order (Revised) shall govern the proceedings, except where they are in conflict with the SL/U.S. Rules.

4. All decisions of the SL/U.S. shall be by simple majority vote. No second shall be required for motions in any body of the SL/U.S. The chairman of all meetings and committees has a right to voice and vote. The nay vote shall be taken first in calling the question (i.e., to end a discussion and proceed to a vote). Motions presented become the property of the body. Once cast, a member’s vote cannot be changed except by permission of the body.

5. Full members of a higher body shall have the right to attend and speak at all meetings of lower bodies within the jurisdiction of the higher body.

6. All elections to party bodies will be voted by secret ballot, unless a motion to vote by acclamation passes unanimously. A nominee to a party body who declines the nomination may be renominated and must then accept.

7. Visiting members of the ICL will normally be extended the privileges of attendance, voice and consultative vote at meetings of bodies equivalent to those on which they sit in their own locales.


The following is a general formula for electing delegates to a National Conference. In a situation where factional division exists, this formula is more or less the only way that the vote of every full member of the SL/U.S., down to the smallest fraction specified by the delegate ratio, will count. However, if you as a dissident have support amounting to less than one-half of one delegate vote throughout the entire national organization, you can have no decisive vote at the ensuing National Conference. For example, if the ratio of delegates is 7:1, you will have to find three other comrades to support your position. In that case, all such views will necessarily be subject to discussion and vote.

The Conference Call will specify the ratio of members to each delegate such that m members shall have one delegate vote (m will always be an odd number).

If n members vote for a written declaration, counterposed to another such declaration if there is factional division in the organization, then a certain number of delegates will be elected on the basis of that declaration. Separate elections are held by those members voting for each declaration.

The number of delegates for each declaration is computed as follows: Divide n by m. The result will be d + x/m where d is a whole number and x is a remainder less than m. Note that since the delegate ratio is odd, 2x will always be either more or less than m, never equal.

Where 2x > m, an additional delegate casting x/m delegate votes will be elected. Where 2x < m, those full delegates with the highest personal votes (or those selected by other means) shall have a Conference vote of 1 + 1/m to complete the full voting weight of those within the local committee voting for a common position.

Here is an example:

1. m = 7 (i.e., the delegate ratio is 7:1).

2. The local has 64 members who vote on two counterposed declarations.

3. 25 members vote for declaration A, 37 vote for declaration B, 1 abstaining, 1 not voting.

The 25 members voting for declaration A elect four delegates. Three have full votes, one has 4/7 vote. The 37 members voting for declaration B elect five delegates, three with full votes, two with 8/7 vote each. The computation is as follows:

Declaration A: 25 ÷ 7 = 3 + 4/7 (Therefore x = 4. Since 2 times 4 is more than 7, an extra delegate is elected with 4/7 fractional vote.)

Declaration B: 37 ÷ 7 = 5 + 2/7 (Therefore x = 2. Since 2 times 2 is less than 7, the extra fraction—in this case 2/7—will be spread as evenly as possible among those delegates with the highest votes.)

Note that this system of exact proportional representation also applies in the event of three or more counterposed factions in the organization.